Koch on Film

By Ed Koch

“The Town” (+)

This cops and robbers film, directed by Ben Affleck, is superb.

Affleck and Matt Damon came on the scene like gangbusters when they starred in the film “Good Will Hunting” — based on their screenplay. Following that movie, Damon eclipsed Affleck on the screen and Affleck dominated the tabloids during his relationship with Jennifer Lopez (a.k.a. J-Lo and Jenny From the Block). Lopez, by the way, is no empty shell limited to a pretty face and a good figure. She can really act.

I’ve never been a big fan of Affleck — who also stars in “The Town” — finding him to be very stiff and unemotional in his roles. In this picture, however, he is excellent. He has come a very long way. What a difference between his acting in the 2001 movie “Pearl Harbor” (in which he was a leaden stick of a figure) and the nuances he shows in his current film.

The movie is set in Charlestown — a working class section of Boston. An upper-echelon crook, Fergie (Pete Postlethwaite) organizes heists and hires crews to carry them out. His main contact is Doug (Ben Affleck), who executes the robberies along with his friends — the closest of whom is Jim (Jeremy Renner). Jim, who appears to be psychotic, is ready, willing and able to use a machine gun at the drop of a hat.

Other characters include FBI sleuth Adam (Jon Hamm), Doug’s father, Stephen (Chris Cooper) who is serving a life sentence in prison, and Claire (Rebecca Hall) — the assistant manager of a Cambridge bank. Every cast member does an exceptional job portraying their character.

Claire is taken hostage after her bank is robbed. When Jim worries after her release that she may be able to tell the cops something that would reveal their identities, Doug agrees to trail her. The two soon meet and a romantic relationship begins.

Three heists are depicted in the film – two banks and one at Fenway Park – all of which are executed like ballets with shootouts and car chase scenes that, I believe, rival the best of the genre. The disguises the crews use in the holdups are delicious and add to the enjoyment.

You are in for a good time if you see this film. I saw it at Village East Cinema — once a showcase for Yiddish theater.

Henry Stern said: “When Mayor Koch chose this film, I thought we were in for another cops and robbers story. Actually, it turned out somewhat better than that. Once you assume the required suspension of disbelief about the events depicted, you can have a good time. I enjoyed the aerial views of Charlestown and the narrow streets of Boston. The acting was first-rate. One looks at these movies as genre films, like horse operas (Westerns) or soap operas (tearjerkers). “The Town” suggests William Faulkner and Conrad Richter, but the small time hoods in this movie do not resemble the Snopes or Wheeler families.”

Rated R. Run time: 2 hours, 3 minutes. Currently showing at, among other places, Village East Cinema (181-189 Second Ave. at 12th St.). For screening times, call 212-529-6799 or visit www.villageeastcinema.com.